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Best of the Free Anti-virus Choices? 499

iamjoltman writes "I've been looking to replace the McAfee anti-virus on my parent's XP machine. So, I've been looking at the three free anti-virus choices, AVG Free Edition, avast! Home Edition and AntiVir Personal Edition. I know there are other options, but I believe any others are only on-demand scanners, and that's not an option. So, what does the Slashdot crowd think is the best of these choices? Keep in mind, I'm only looking in anti-virus, I'll go elsewhere for firewall or malware protection."
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Best of the Free Anti-virus Choices?

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  • Avast! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Verteiron ( 224042 ) on Monday May 22, 2006 @11:12AM (#15380575) Homepage
    I see no need to repeat myself, so I'll just link to my previous post on this subject [slashdot.org].

  • Re:Oblig: ClamAV (Score:4, Insightful)

    by essdodson ( 466448 ) on Monday May 22, 2006 @11:14AM (#15380601) Homepage
    And you've ignored everything that the requestor said he wanted in a product. Good job.
  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Monday May 22, 2006 @11:18AM (#15380631) Homepage Journal
    I was using AVG and my system had been very sluggish. After several spyware scans with Spybot S&D, Ad Aware and Windows Guardian I was comfortable that I had no spyware or adware on my system. So, I decided to try a different virus scanner. I tried Avast first, it located one infected file that AVG did not.

    I removed the file and my system immediately began to run faster. I wondered if AVG missed something, could Avast miss something, so I downloaded and installed AntiVir. AntiVir drove me crazy with all kinds of false positives. AntiVir picked up many security audit tools that I was evaluating as trojans. I'd never be able to use my system if I left it installed. I went back to Avast. For the time being, Avast is my personal virus scanner of choice. Apparently no false positives and it found a virus that AVG did not.

  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Monday May 22, 2006 @11:19AM (#15380651)
    My mother and brother can't handle using Firefox instead of IE; I really can't see them coping with Linux rather than Windows. (My father, on the other hand, is perfectly happy with FF, as is my fiancée now that she's stuck with it for a while)

    Is there a particular reason an alternate, less susceptible OS wouldn't suffice?

    Blah blah only a matter of time blah blah no OS can save your machine from a rogue user with the root password blah blah.

    Seriously, the vast majority of viruses and other malware are user-initiated; true worms (that exploit holes in server/daemon processes) are very rare. Linux will save you from the former only as long as it's obscure. Security through obscurity, and all that...

    (Cue over-rated and troll mods)
  • AntiVir (Score:5, Insightful)

    by __aaitqo8496 ( 231556 ) on Monday May 22, 2006 @11:20AM (#15380656) Journal
    I've recommended AntiVir [free-av.com] to a number of family and friends. The usability increases with each iteration, and gives you options to schedule automatic updates. The only downside is during updates, it sends up a single advertisement for thier full-featured product. So far, I've installed it for my girlfriend, sister, mother, and grandmother. No one has yet had a virus breakout - of course, the promotion of Firefox to Default Browser(TM) and a little user education goes a long way.

    As a sidenote, check out the Anandtech Consolidated Security Thread [anandtech.com] for great commentary on a slew of security products. As of version 6, (now version 7) AntiVir is rated [virus.gr] at a 84.5% detection rate.

    As for myself, I just use good ol' common sense and a router.
  • Re:RTFSummary (Score:1, Insightful)

    by elmuhfuh ( 942644 ) on Monday May 22, 2006 @11:31AM (#15380788)
    on top of that he links pirated software.
  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Monday May 22, 2006 @11:34AM (#15380810) Homepage Journal
    The best antivirus protection is not to be exposed to viruses.

    Like the guy in the first part of Egan's "Distress" who was converting himself to use a different set of amino acids in his DNA/RNA to render himself immune to all viruses (except for rogue versions of the ones used to implement the conversion, which seemed to be a rather obvious hole in his clever scheme to me), the best protection is to be a different species, genus, phylum, or kingdom than the infected population.

    Failing that, I've fallen back on "Don't use Internet Explorer or any other application that uses the Microsoft HTML control, damnit". That at least turns the antivirus clock back to 1995 or so, when the biggest exposure was still shareware and local network exploits. I can live with that.
  • Just that you have looked at free ones.

    Nod32 from eSet has been running hassle-free on my Windows machine for quite a while and has scored 100% detection rates in third-party testing.
  • by DoctorDyna ( 828525 ) on Monday May 22, 2006 @11:45AM (#15380926)
    Try using the anti-virus software I use at home. It's a mental document I have that I spew at everybody who uses my network. I call it: "Don't be an idiot."

    It contains several points.

    1. Don't click before you read
    2. Don't open e-mail attachments unless it's from sombody you know in real life.
    3. Don't ever run anything in a browser, or click anything that a web site says you should, no matter HOW WONDERFUL it claims to be.
    4. Don't use file sharing or P2P of any kind.
    5. Don't give out your e-mail address to any site that you use for communication. Use a seprate spam e-mail address with a free provider when a website requests an e-mail address.

    There are other things, but the general idea is this. Most anti-virus software will slow down your computer. Sometimes, as much so that it behaves as if it's actually infected with a virus. Following general rules you can lead a completely normal life with a computer, sans anti virus software. I have been doing it for over 12 years, and none of my computers have ever been infected with a real virus. Sure, I've had to do MS updates for sasser and the like to prevent other drone computers on the internet from attacking me using a flaw, but that doesn't count as being infected with a virus, and most likely wouldn't have been something an anti-virus program would have stopped to begin with.

    Oh, and Linux zealots: Please try to stop yourselves from suggesting that Linux in some form is the "end all, catch all" cure for PC woes and viruses. I would much rather go to my mothers house once a month ro remove a virus than once every 15 minutes to try to explain how to do something simple with her system. Before you fuckers get happy with the moderate menu please understand I'm not bashing Linux, I'm just saying we have to stop making the answer to every question "Install Linux."

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Monday May 22, 2006 @11:45AM (#15380927) Journal
    That of not only protection but saving the time wasting recovery from infections?

    If "free" meant "less effective" then you would have a good point. But it doesn't - The three mentioned in the FP all perform comparably to Symantec, and (from at least one independant review I've seen) considerably better than McAfee.

    Not to mention, they consume FAR lower system resources. At work we run Symantec corporate edition, and I actually need to disable it to burn a DVD rather than a coaster (and I don't run on old or low-end hardware). At home, AntiVir chugs away without making a nuissance of itself or reducing all disc access to a crawl. It also doesn't install six services, two autoruns, and a handfull of TCP/IP stack hijacks, which Symantec does.

    Personally, I long for Clam to support on-demand scanning. But until then... AntiVir wins, with AVG a close second (and the only free on-demand choice for server versions of Windows).
  • Re:Avast vs AVG (Score:3, Insightful)

    by paeanblack ( 191171 ) on Monday May 22, 2006 @12:19PM (#15381258)
    IMHO, the "no viruses yet" for me isn't very telling. Most Slashdot readers have enough common sense that they would probably never get a virus even if they skipped the virus checkers entirely. I have never had a known virus on any machine I've used since the days of booting DOS off of floppies. Heck, even my parents who manage to load up their machine with spyware don't get viruses anymore (at least nothing the virus checkers actually catch). IMHO, most antivirus software has been useless for years now. It's software like Adaware and Spybot S&D that seem most important.

    I've given up on virus scanners for my folks...they definitely cause more problems than they solve nowadays. Firefox/Adaware/Spybot all work damn well for keeping their machines in a working state. A good hosts file also keeps out 95% of the crap...if they can't see the ads, they can't click them.
  • Re:Oblig: ClamAV (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sunandsea ( 976427 ) on Monday May 22, 2006 @12:20PM (#15381262)
    No OS should go without antivirus software. A lot of people are going to get caught with their pants down when some virus writer decides they want to write a nasty one for Linux. Security through obscurity isn't really security.
  • Re:RTFSummary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BiggyP ( 466507 ) <philh@theopencBALDWINd.org minus author> on Monday May 22, 2006 @12:30PM (#15381368) Homepage Journal
    But does it integrate with Firefox and Thunderbird, it's a serious question, i haven't tried clamAV in a while. AVG's personal email scanner solution sits between any mail client(using standard protocols) and the mail servers and performs transparent scanning of messages sent and received, and a very good job it does too.

    ClamAV, well the win32 ports, does look like a promising prjoect and i look forward to seeing a more feature complete version, until then i'm afraid i'll continue to recommend AVG free to non-technical windows users and i might even give the free desktop-linux AVG scanner a quick test at some point.
  • by DoctorDyna ( 828525 ) on Monday May 22, 2006 @12:38PM (#15381461)
    Wasn't trying to be smug, and I'm sorry if it came across that way. What I was trying to illustrate is that you can, in fact have a completely normal computing experience without AV software. Playing games isn't out at all. What I was trying to say is Clicking the blinking link that says TRY out FABULOUS FREE GAMES NOW!!!! and somehow being drawn to the link like a bug to a zapper light is what causes the problems. I was trying to say that a very small amount of user education and self-control can, as it has for me, do as much, if not more good than any AV software.

    Anybody who has installed winamp in the last few months knows exactly the kind of crap I'm talking about. So far, I'm the only one who uses my network that has managed to not get a "fabulous free music from e-music" icon on my desktop, because I'm one of the few people I know that read the text in the menus. Clicking "advanced" and making sure that an app isn't sneaking another app in at the same time helps.

    So, really, I wasn't saying I was any better than you. All I meant to say is a little literacy and time-taking goes a long way. If anybody took offence to that, there is nothing I can do.

  • Re:AVG here.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aliencow ( 653119 ) on Monday May 22, 2006 @01:53PM (#15382107) Homepage Journal
    Stamped email are so ridiculous, what the hell is to stop a virus from sending an email saying OMG SCANNED BY AVG NO VIRUS IN HERE LOLLLLIPOP!|!!111 nothing. Yeah that's what I thought, so when you stamp your email, you only give false security to the people reading it.
  • by chrispl ( 189217 ) on Monday May 22, 2006 @01:55PM (#15382130) Homepage
    I don't understand why someone would breathe free air when you can buy pure medical grade oxygen for only a few dollars a tank! People spend tens of thousands of dollars on healthcare but won't spend a few measily dollars on purified clean air?

    Anyway I think you can see where I'm going with this. Why pay when you can have it for nothing?

    By the way, AntiVir Personal for me.
  • Well, in theory you are right. In practice, your solution works if you're alone in the world. I'm married now and have multiple networks to administer. I won't take the small network of three computers that we have (my, my wife, the server). I'll take my "first network", the one at my parents that I still administer. It grew from one PC to a network with an OpenBSD server, three desktop machines (two AMD64, one Athlon XP) and a laptop (Two if I'm around...).
    I managed to educate my users quite well: they run Limited User on XP (and do not know the admin password), they know not to click on every dumb attachment, they also use Firefox all the time (If I catch anyone running Internet Explorer, I just blackhole them at firewall level - OpenBSD remember?)

    The thing is: I'm not always around. According to your theory everything should work fine. I'm pretty sure it would. I still don't want to take the risk: perhaps my dad (he's getting old and is often absent-minded) accidentally runs a suspicious attachment, perhaps my brother comes home drunk and thinks a pr0n surfing session with Internet Explorer is a good idea.... Resident antivirus programs are the safeguards against such "accidents". Oh, and because I like my software standardized on all my machines, I run exactly the same stuff they do... Including an antivirus package, even though I have a clue.
    I'm just prudent, that is all...

  • by spoco2 ( 322835 ) on Monday May 22, 2006 @07:02PM (#15384344)
    What a lot of crud to say and of course, this is the only comparison that really matters.... There is so very much more to be concerned with:

    Size of memory footprint
    Scan speed
    Scheduled scanning ability
    Plugs into email applications
    How it behaves with other applications
    How easy it is to use.

    So NO that is not the only comparison that matters.

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